The annual Girl Scout cookie sales have come to a close, but the scouts of Marlinton Troop #5032 are already hard at work on their next project.
Armed with colorful markers and youthful imaginations, the girls spent last Monday’s meeting creating handmade birthday and Valentine’s Day cards to send to their military penpal, SPC Christopher G. Boatwright, of the 363rd Military Police out of Grafton.
“He’s actually my niece’s fiancé,” troop leader Linda Friel said. “I’ve always wanted to do something like this with my girls, and when I learned about Chris’ deployment, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do so.”
Friel and “her girls” have been sending monthly letters to Boatwright since early September. In their letters, the girls talk about themselves and their days, as well as their families and pets, school and the weather. The girls end each letter with well wishes, a hope that he is safe and an invitation to come visit once he returns to the States.
Letters weren’t the only items Boatwright received this past December. Working with a wish list provided by Friel, the troop put their heads together and brought in enough food to fill two large boxes. Some of Boatwright’s favorites – packages of beef jerky, jars of peanut butter and bags of Sweet Tarts – were among the 54 pounds of food purchased.
According to Friel, Boatwright’s deployment came as a shock for fiancé Lyndsey Barlow and the rest of their families. A member of the Army National Guard Reserves, Boatwright – who had been attending Davis and Elkins College for nursing – hadn’t been expecting to be called up when he received word in December 2014.
“My family, of course, didn’t want to see me leave,” Boatwright said, “but with their and Lyndsey’s support, as well as the support of her family and our friends, I knew everything would be okay.”
In April 2015, Boatwright’s unit was deployed to the Republic of Kosovo. While there, he serves as a member of the 363rd Military Police and is attached to the K-9 units as a security element. He will begin the journey home from Kosovo in early March. Once state-side, Boatwright will make his way to Marlinton at the end of the month for a Welcome Home party hosted by Troop #5032.
In addition to preparing for Boatwright’s homecoming, the scouts have been busy with their annual Girl Scout cookie sales.
For the past month, girls across the nation have approached family, friends, neighbors and more in the hopes of fulfilling sales goals set at the beginning of the year, and for Friel and her scouts, the bar was set high at 4,000 boxes.
“I asked the girls how many boxes they wanted to sell,” Friel explained, “and they went as low as one hundred and as high as five thousand. We sold three thousand-two hundred boxes of cookies last year, so I thought four thousand boxes would be an attainable goal.”
In addition to the overall goal, each of the 19 scouts has set their own personal goals. Every box of cookies sold counts toward a list of available prizes found on the back of their cookie order forms, The rewards differ depending on location and availability and can range from Girl Scout cookie patches, T-shirts and toys to bedroom and outdoor camping sets, iPads and trips to amusement and water parks.
Of the prizes available to scouts nationwide is a stuffed cow, Daisy Belle, and for one Marlinton scout, her goal is to sell a minimum of 250 boxes of cookies in order to replace her lost Daisy Belle.
Others in Friel’s troop have set and already reached their goal of 300 boxes.
The Girl Scouts of the Black Diamond Council, out of Charleston, invited Friel’s troop to join them on a northern trip last fall. However, the number of available seats began to decline rapidly, and Friel’s troop was unable to accompany them.
Rather than letting a lack of seats deter her, Friel set to work putting together a similar trip, and on Thursday, April 21, Troop #5032 will depart from McClintic Library, by bus, on a three-day trip to New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia’s eastern panhandle.
Utilizing the student tour suggestions found on Abbott Trailways’ website – a charter bus company based out of Roanoke, Virginia – New York City will be the first stop of the weekend-long trip. The troop will arrive sometime on Friday and visits to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building – among other stops – have been arranged.
Following their time in New York, Friel, the girls and their parents will travel to Pennsylvania Friday evening. Upon their arrival, the group will spend Saturday touring the Betsy Ross House and Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, where they will visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, as well as explore historic Gettysburg.
The final leg of the trip will bring the group to Harpers Ferry. While there, they will tour the field where the Battle of Harpers Ferry took place and a couple of the town’s historic homes – including the home of the battle’s first casualty.
And just as Boatwright’s tour of the Balkans will end with a homecoming in Marlinton, so will the troop’s tour of the east coast. Following their time in Harpers Ferry, the group will arrive in Marlinton Sunday, April 24, at 8 p.m.